How broadly?

Something Madeleine Bunting said in her piece on ‘faith’ schools yesterday.

[O]ver 70% of people in this country still describe themselves as Christian; that may not mean going to church but it may mean wanting children to grow up with broadly Christian values.

But what are broadly Christian values? They’re probably not really Christian values at all, that is, not values that depend on believing that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and was bodily resurrected and hauled up into heaven. (It’s a little hard to know what values would depend on believing that, really. Atonement? But is the Christian version of that really a value? If it is is it a broadly Christian value? It’s well known that the Christian atonement can seem like a very dubious bit of morality indeed to outsiders.) Bunting probably means simply values that are mistakenly attributed to Christianity but are in fact in no way exclusive to Christianity or dependent on it – values like compassion, mercy, universal love, a kind of irrational generosity. Those are admirable values (whatever the worries about the potential of extravagant compassion to encourage cruel people to go on being cruel), but they are not theistic values. It’s also not entirely clear that they’re Christian values even in the sense of ‘Christian’ being a shorthand for the abovementioned values like compassion and the rest – because to many people Christian values apparently means not turning the other cheek but various things to do with sex and alcohol. It is, frankly, not really a useful phrase, being flawed from more than one direction.

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